A Proudly Canadian Spirit Dairy Distillery: Innovation Using Ontario Milk

Written by Eatdrink

A truly remarkable spirit is the product of the character of its ingredients, the mastery of its making and the depth of its story.

Environmental & Social Benefits

All spirits are made by fermenting sugar. Dairy Distillery uses a sugar rarely used to make spirits: milk sugar. Milk sugar, or lactose, is a natural, healthy sugar. It was first fermented to make alcohol by the Mongols over a thousand years ago. While milk sugar produces a cleaner, smoother, gluten-free spirit, it never became popular with distillers due to its high cost and production challenges. 

Milk from 3,500 Ontario dairy farms is sent to large processors where the cream is removed to make butter and the proteins concentrated to make ultrafiltered milk used by cheese and yogurt makers. When making ultrafiltered milk, a sugar rich liquid called milk permeate is produced. Most milk permeate is dumped, creating a strain on the environment and a disposal cost for dairy farmers.

Available at the LCBO.
Vodkow (750 ml) $35.95

In this “waste,” Dairy Distillery Founder & CEO Omid McDonald saw an opportunity to make world-class spirits with the potential to support hard working local farmers and the environment. In collaboration with the University of Ottawa, a process to convert milk permeate into an unbelievably smooth spirit has been perfected. Thanks to this process, anything that Dairy Distillery doesn’t bottle can be safely put back into the environment. And buying milk permeate helps Ontario dairy farmers.

Vodkow: More than “Local Vodka”

What does innovation taste like? In a word: DELICIOUS! One could call this “local vodka” but Dairy Distillery has branded their unique clear spirit as Vodkow. It is both lactose and sugar free. It’s subtly sweet on the nose with traces of vanilla. The palate provides a velvety smooth experience that fades beautifully into a sparkling clean finish accented by a hint of whipped cream. The spirit has character to be enjoyed on its own while being versatile to mix in your favourite cocktail.

Dairy Heritage Meets State-of-the-Art Design

Tours & Tastings

Dairy Distillery built its state-of-the-art micro distillery in Almonte, a small 19th-century mill town situated along the scenic Canadian Mississippi River, a short drive from Ottawa. Almonte has become a foodie destination of note, and its limestone mill buildings have been lovingly preserved and now house an eclectic mix of boutiques, craft shops and galleries. Dairy Distillery is proud to be part of this inspiring community and has planted roots in Almonte for generations to come.

A reflection of our dairy heritage and Dairy Distillery’s modern outlook, the building is a perfect union of agricultural and contemporary design. A 30-foot pitched roof supported by gorgeous Douglas Fir timbers creates a stunning workspace for the crafting of fine spirits. German-made copper Christian Carl stills are proudly displayed in an all-glass front facade. Consistent with its environmental mission, the distillery uses the latest conservation technology including radiant floors, heat exchangers and water reclamation. 

Gingerbread White Russian Cocktail

Fermented, Distilled & Bottled at:
34 Industrial Drive, Almonte ON

Enjoy a Vodkow sample at the distillery store. 

Free tours are available on request during opening hours (a tour takes about 15 minutes). You’ll also find Vodkow in two sizes and merchandise for sale. 

Shop online and have Vodkow sent right to your door. And show your support for the moovement with great Dairy Distillery gear and apparel!

About the author


Eatdrink serves the community of London, Stratford and Southwestern Ontario with entertaining and enlightening news, views and stories about the finer aspects of eating and drinking. Our tightly focused magazine is printed bimonthly, and our website updated frequently, in order to stay fresh, current to the season and timely with news. Our frequency also enables us to profile more of the exciting businesses and vibrant personalities that populate our region, print more wonderful recipes, recommend more great products and share more great stories.